Parents contact TD to push for teens’ access to cheap alcohol

New alliance to support Government measures to reduce alcohol consumption

 Mary Mitchell O’Connor: alarmed by the volume of messages she has had from constituents against Government plans to end the availability of cheap alcohol.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor: alarmed by the volume of messages she has had from constituents against Government plans to end the availability of cheap alcohol.

 

A south Dublin TD has expressed her “alarm” at the volume of messages she has had from constituents against Government plans to end the availability of cheap alcohol, including some from parents arguing their teenagers should have access to inexpensive drink.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, was speaking at the announcement of a new alliance of health professionals and NGOs, the Alcohol Health Alliance.

Its primary aim will be to support the Government’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill to be published in coming months and enacted by the end of the year.

Among its key measures will be the introduction of a minimum per-unit price for alcohol to end the sale of cheap alcohol.

Ms Mitchell O’Connor said she had been “getting loads of messages against the Bill” and appealed for constituents to contact her supporting it.

“I have been alarmed at some of the messages, including from parents. I have had fathers contacting me arguing that their 16-year-old daughters should be allowed access to cheap drink. That is how daft some of the thinking is out there on this.”

She said she had also received personally abusive messages from constituents saying the Bill was interfering with their freedom to pursue lifestyles as they wished.

“They are annoyed they might have to pay more for alcohol. It does surprise me when you think of the sort of constituency I represent.”

Prof Joe Barry, of the faculty of public health and medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland, said that while heavy drinking was an issue in poorer socio-economic groups, harmful drinking was more prevalent among affluent groups. He said there was also a misguided belief, more prevalent among affluent parents, that it was appropriate to allow teenage children have “the odd glass of wine or beer”.

“That belief . . . that it educates young people to ‘appreciate’ alcohol. That is misguided,” said Prof Barry.

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